Is there no way to make it such that car batteries can be swapped at charging stations?

Is there no way to make it such that car batteries can be swapped at charging stations?

People use fueled cars because they last longer on the roads, they can go farther and much quicker especially when you consider refueling instead of charging. Is there no way to make it such that batteries can be swapped at charging stations? For example, people can just drive in and change out batteries and be on their way, I think this will help take electric cars mainstream, make it as like fueled cars as possible? So that people don't have to sit and wait to charge the car.

lilbean | 31 december 2018

Wow. What a great, novel idea! You should contact Elon. It's never been thought of before.

jordanrichard | 31 december 2018

Ummmm, Tesla already did this and next to no one took advantage of it. Just a few things you are not considering. Not all EVs, hell, not all Tesla’s have the same battery. So where at this station are you going to store all of the various batteries? Realize these battery packs are about 5 feet wide and 8-9 feet long. While the S and X share the same physical sized batteries, the Model 3 has it’s own, smaller battery.

Also, the vast majority of “refueling” for an EV is done at home. When on a road trip, you are at some point need to eat or use the bathroom, so while you are doing that, you can be charging your car. If you are driving a gasoline car, when you pull over to eat and fuel up your car, that is a two step process. You park your car, walk into the rest area, get something to eat, walk back out to your car, start it to then head over to the gas pumps and most likely have to wait in line. Fuel up and then leave to continue your drive. Meanwhile a Tesla would already be 10 miles down the road. We often drive from CT and NC and in our Tesla, it only takes 15 mins longer in our Tesla than it would in a gasoline car. In other words, there is not time difference but there is one hell of a cost difference.

Lastly, obviously you have never talked to a Tesla owner because none of us are concerned about charging on road trips.

bp | 31 december 2018

There are a number of obstacles for battery swapping, even if the vehicles and battery packs are designed for quick exchanges.

The biggest obstacle is that battery packs are part of the vehicle. When Tesla tried to support battery pack swaps, they had to track which packs belonged to each vehicle - and then work out how to get each battery pack back to the correct car. The cost of shipping battery packs would make the strategy too expensive.

An interesting change would be for Tesla to retain ownership of the battery packs, and what you would buy when purchasing a Tesla was the right to use a battery pack with a specific capacity. Then when you swapped battery packs, you would get a pack at the same capacity as the original - and it would be easier to buy an upgrade by doing a swap for a larger capacity pack.

But for this to work, there would need to be standardization of the battery packs. S/X and 3 use different pack designs, and it's possible Tesla has made design changes so that the 100 battery packs might not work on the earlier 40/60/85 Model S vehicles.

Due to the hardware complexity and investment in supporting battery pack swaps, and unless a change was made in how battery packs are owned, it seems unlikely we'll see battery pack swaps return.

The industry appears to be focusing more on reducing the charging times - getting closer to the amount of time spent for a typical ICE refueling stop. If most supercharging stops can get down to around 15 minutes or less, the charging time should no longer be an issue - and eliminate the need for battery swaps as a faster refueling alternative.

Darthamerica | 31 december 2018

Charging on road trips is a serious issue. There are many places without Superchargers, Superchargers get busy during holidays and stopping for up to 1 to 2 hours for a full charge can be annoying. It's easy to understand why this approach was considered for the convenience reasons the OP mentioned. In fact during the demo Tesla compared it to a gas car. However Tesla had some issue productizing battery swap. The original swap used a car without the battery shield that was later added to reduce the risk of fire. That addition complicated automation and cost. While possible this would require extensive upgrading of infrastructure including having batteries on hand in numbers necessary to support hundreds of thousands to millions of swaps. At $100-$200 per kWh, a huge 200kg of CO2 per kWh and potential liability/warranty issues about who owns the pack, this technique isn't very practical.

Battery swapping was one of Tesla's brute force methods to address EV charging drawbacks. The other was to add many more charging stalls. In the future batteries will be able to charge at much faster rates so it is not likely that Tesla will do any further investment in battery swap.

David N | 31 december 2018

“Is there no way to make it such that car batteries can be swapped at charging stations?“
Yes. Tesla is years ahead of you, already had one, problem was no one used it.
You can probably YouTube it to see it in action.

Darthamerica | 31 december 2018

Tesla Model S - Battery Swap HD Official

Darthamerica | 31 december 2018

Battery swap reminds me of the starship wait problem. You build a ship to go to a distant star and travel time is 1000 years. 500 years into the trip a new technology is developed that reduces travel time by half or more. It wouldn't make sense to keep funding the older technology. That's what happened to battery swap.

NKYTA | 31 december 2018

@darth, “Charging on road trips is a serious issue.”

Complete and utter BS.

“There are many places without Superchargers”

So what? I don’t have a gas pump in my garage, but I do have electricity.

“Superchargers get busy during holidays and stopping for up to 1 to 2 hours for a full charge can be annoying.”

BS again. I’ve Supercharged in 47 of the 48 contiguous US States at over 380 SC sites. I’ve waited a grand total of 45 minutes for a stall. All waits were in CA.

Battery swap was tried and not deemed worthwhile.

Your troll employers need to ask for a refund. You really have no experience road tripping in a Tesla, and you really suck at trolling.

RedShift | 31 december 2018


Flag the worm. His paycheck will be in jeopardy, he will seek greener pastures elsewhere.

Yodrak. | 31 december 2018

"Is there no way to make it such that batteries can be swapped at charging stations?"

Of course there's a way, but not a practical way. In addition to the issues other posters have pointed out, the size of a charging station site would have to be considerably larger than is required for a few dozen charging stalls. A building of sufficient size to store battery packs, battery pack handling equipment, and car lifts would be required. Along with the different zoning requirements that would be involved it would be much more difficult to site charging stations.

Darthamerica | 31 december 2018

@NKYTA it's not utter BS. Try to drive to Anchorage from Los Angeles on superchargers. It's also a well know fact that there are waits at superchargers still. Deal in reality and still turning threads into your personal pissing match. Expanding and improving superchargers is a major Tesla initiative.

Darthamerica | 31 december 2018

@Yodrak +1

Once able to charge a car in single digit minutes, battery swap would be unnecessary for consumer markets. I think we are within 10 years of this.

NKYTA | 31 december 2018

“Try to drive to Anchorage from Los Angeles on superchargers.”

That is a “serious issue”? To whom?

“It's also a well know fact that there are waits at superchargers still.”

Yes. And then I gave you a real world example about how that is hyperbole.

You need to give your employer their money back. You really suck at this.

jpcollins9 | 31 december 2018

Since I get better mileage on my battery charge than I do on my bladder, my only concern is if there's a bathroom handy when I charge. That said, if it's remote enough, there's a bathroom next to the nearest tree. Battery swap sounded like a good idea when I was considering buying my first Tesla. Almost four years later, it is a non issue for me.

DonS | 31 december 2018

Unless battery packs were standardized to a very few configurations, the inventory management problem quickly becomes intractable. I can think of 5 unique packs in the Model S alone. If quick battery change is the top priority, pack configuration could be standardized at the expense of several other battery pack parameters.

Darthamerica | 31 december 2018

DonS plus changing cell technology.

PrescottRichard | 31 december 2018

Too bad you can’t just swap out your bladder as needed. | 31 december 2018

I've been using Superchargers during the holidays in California for 5+ years now. Only had one long wait 5 years ago at Harris ranch when it only had one stall, and someone got to it 30 second before me. I'd say 98% of the time I've had zero wait, and a few times 5-10 minutes. Really not an issue. At the same holiday times, I often see long lines at the gas stations as the poor saps wait to fill up and breath those lovely carcinogenic fueling fumes. So much for 5 minute ICE refueling.

Never driven from LA to Alaska, and have zero plans to do so in my lifetime in any vehicle. Looking it up, found someone who went from Mexico to Alaska in a Model S. So it can be done:

David N | 31 december 2018

“Too bad you can’t just swap out your bladder as needed.“
Problem solved, Just ask any long range military fighter pilot, it’s called a “Piddle Pak”.
I asked our friend (Pilot on C5 transport), how those fighter pilots who are in one seaters for hours upon hours go pee.

Darthamerica | 31 december 2018

We used Gatorade bottles and wag bags...

The fact is supercharging still has a long way to go but it is better and will be a better investment than a battery swap.

Madatgascar | 31 december 2018

Getting some good ideas for the cannonball run I’m planning with my son. Waiting for warmer weather to go for a coast to coast EV record. My bladder syncs with the SCs, his does not... but he can do the night driving that I can’t.

jordanrichard | 1 januari 2019

Darthamerica, so you pick one obscure road trip (LA to Alaska) that next to no one would make and cite that as a prime example of why the Tesla SC network is lacking. Over 3 years ago Tesla drove from CA to NYC in 72 hours, using the existing chargers. The number and density of superchargers has since doubled.

TranzNDance | 1 januari 2019

I had one charge that took only four minutes because that was all I needed to get home. I didn't need to wait for a longer charge because I didn't need to fill up the battery before getting home since I could charge there. Other sessions corresponded to snack or meal breaks and the car tend to be ready before we were done. I drove from Vegas to the SF Bay Area and didn't feel exhausted from all that driving thanks to AP and frequent breaks.

Madatgascar | 1 januari 2019

I want to go to Tierra Del Fuego and I can only make it to Tijuana. SC network sucks!

PrescottRichard | 1 januari 2019

Yeah? Well, I heard two guys walked across Antarctica because there were no gas stations.

Mike83 | 1 januari 2019

@TranzNDance +100 It is so simple to use. The Nav on AP does the calculations and most of the driving already. We do about a trip a month now since we enjoy traveling. The Supercharger spots are in nice places and those places get our business. Using the Tesla App we get notified when charging is almost complete so we don't get idle fees.
Waiting for a Supercharger is extremely rare and the system Tesla set up works smoothly. In 5 years I had to wait at the most 10 minutes in San Clemente years ago. Tesla fixed these issues.
Some of the news is trying to make ICEing a big deal. I have seen this in places a long time ago but it is pretty rare. Those places that do business desire Tesla owners to spend money at their establishments and if they can't stop there they will lose business. I think they figured that one out a long time ago. No real drama but news gets clicks for it.
About 5 years ago when superchargers were rare I would charge at friends homes and even some Tesla owners had chargers powered by Solar panels. You can plug a Tesla into the billion electric outlets anywhere including RV spots, 120 or 210. For example, on one trip we stayed at a motel that only had a 120v outlet and it charged at 5 mph which is 120 miles in 24 hours and that allowed us to get to the next SC.
One other benefit is that at some places we got to exercise for 30 minutes while charging not having to breathe gas fumes or experience cognitive damaging carbon monoxide or CO2. We got more buff and our sense of smell made us fix up our garage with no ICE vehicles allowed. The changes have a ripple effect and have made life fun and healthy. I have great respect and gratitude for Elon and all the 50,000 employees at Tesla. In addition, for 20 years we have put Solar Panels on our homes so after the initial capital expense we have free electricity to power our homes and Teslas. This allowed us to save enough cash to buy 3 Teslas(sold one) and gave us other economic benes. I am not the only one to have such success. All you have to do is look at all the Teslas coming into your neighborhood and that is without advertising and with fake news put out by those interests afraid of Tesla being successful. I can smell their fear. It is hard to find a job making buggy whips.

Just had some time today to write and I wish all a Happy ICE free New Year.

Darthamerica | 1 januari 2019

Jordan it's not an obscure trip, it's an example of a real world limitation to counter the false claim that the network is sufficient to meet all demand. It is not. There isn't enough density so there are gaps in coverage during road trips. There are also not enough Supercharger stalls to handle demand for the vehicles using them during road trips which results in waits.

The point of this was to inform the OP that battery swap would have helped somewhat with the wait to make the stop more like a gas station. However the logistics and advances in charging technology make battery swap a poor investment.

Newer charging tech will reduce charge times to be close enough to battery swap time. Also it's better if Tesla expands the network of chargers to fill the gaps rather then build out a bunch of consumer battery swap stalls.

You don't need to run to Tesla's defense anytime a valid criticism is raised. Tesla is a new company and these issues are not unexpected. The key is how Tesla manages this build out and growth stage. They are doing remarkably well.

reed_lewis | 1 januari 2019

How many people drive from LA to Anchorage, AK? I would hazard to guess perhaps 10 or 15 a year!

And in that case, you either rent an ICE car, or take something known as an airplane that gets you there much more quickly.

Look, EVs do not solve every single transportation problem, but they handle the vast majority of driving.

Using your example, I cannot drive in a Tesla from LAX to Cancun, Mexico either. But why would anyone drive that?

Darthamerica | 1 januari 2019

Reed its not up to you why. The fact is that it can't be done in a similar way to an ICE vehicle because BEVs haven't advanced to that level of capability. Yes the have majority of the time in big cities, mine included, it's a perfectly fine solution. But the technology has a long way to go. The context of this discussion was how battery swap could help bridge the gap between Tesla's and ICE vehicles. Please don't be one of the trolls or fanatics that go on a religious crusade whenever an objective look is taken at the state of the art.

Mike83 | 1 januari 2019

We've driven 2000 miles on one trip in our Tesla. What I like is there are no problems like trying to start a gas or diesel vehicle in Cold, 10F and the heating is instant.
Most dependable vehicle I've ever owned
Battery exchange might be useful in Formula E racing but Tesla already offered it but found it wasn't needed

Darthamerica | 1 januari 2019

For those who may not be familiar, the issue in cold weather on road trips is that range will be seriously reduced. In extreme cases this can be as much as 50%! Using the cabin heat will also draw power so use seat heaters and dress warm if that's possible. In places where superchargers are far apart you need to make sure you leave with enough to get to the next charger plus margin. You also shouldn't leave the car in a very low state of charge because the vampire drain will be worse and this could leave you in a bad situation. Use apps like EVTO or EV Trip Planner.

reed_lewis | 2 januari 2019

@Mike83 - I agree with you. I always drive the Tesla wherever I go.

As to the Alaska trip, no one has said that an EV is the solution to 100% of the transportation requirements of everyone. But it fulfills the need of probably 99% of the driving that people do, and that is good enough for me. For example, my daily drive back and forth to work (about 80 miles round trip) works perfectly in the Tesla.

Your example reminds me of people who buy a large pickup truck saying that they carry a lot of stuff, but in actuality carry a few sheets of plywood once a year. No vehicle is EVER going to meet everyone's needs. You remind me of the posts that I have seen who dismiss Tesla cars because they need to carry bales of hay in their fields so no one could possibly 'get by' with a mere EV car because it would never work for them...

Shock | 2 januari 2019


"Ummmm, Tesla already did this and next to no one took advantage of it."

No, it did not. It had a demo years ago about it, but it never put it to market.

"Lastly, obviously you have never talked to a Tesla owner because none of us are concerned about charging on road trips."

Defensive much? Also wrong. If it were not a concern, this video would not exist: